Following weeks of what has seemed like non-stop rain, one section of County Road 30A had enough and caved in last weekend when a culvert between County Roads 83 and 283 washed out, taking the majority of the eastbound lane with it. That section of 30A has now been closed and all traffic has to detour to U.S. Highway 98 to go around the damaged area of 30A.
WJHG TV's Chief Meteorologist Chris Smith lives in Inlet Beach. He said rainfall at his house has so far reached 40.40 inches since July 1.
"An average year brings about 62 inches of rain. I am at about 70 inches for the year at my house," he said.
And this is just August.
Louis Svehla, public information manager for Walton County, said at this time, the County Public Works department has not completed their assessment of damage to Walton County roadways so there are no cost estimates available yet and the section of 30A that is currently out of service does not yet have a timetable for repair.
"Once we experience a few consecutive days without rain we will be able to better assess the damage. As long as rain continues to fall, additional damage to the area could occur," he said.
Svehla said county officials have met with officials from the Federal Emergency Management Agency in regard to the damage to 30A near Big Redfish Lake and officials from the county and FEMA will visit the location on Monday morning, Aug. 26 to further assess the damage.
"At this time, officials are working to speed up the process in regard to obtaining permits and working with environmental agencies in order to speed up the process of repair, but at this time, there is no date scheduled for the repair or reopening of that section of 30A," he said. "County officials will continue to assess the damage and formulate a plan of action on the best repair to be made to the location. At this time, and for the foreseeable future, residents and visitors are reminded to use 83 and 283 for north/south travel and 98 for east/west travel."
With the Labor Day holiday looming and traffic on 30A always heavy at that time, Svehla said it's not anticipated that the damaged section of 30A will be repaired by Labor Day.
"At this time, the Public Works department is planning to place detour signs around the area to direct traffic to use County Roads 83 and 283 as north/south routes to link to Highway 98 for east/west travel," he said.
Walton County Tourist Development Director Jim Bagby said he does not see road damage as keeping the usual influx of tourists from coming to South Walton. He believes they will still come and it will continue to be business as usual, with just a minor detour.